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ChrisR266 On February - 16 - 2011

I am a fan of science fiction/fantasy.  Have been from my earliest years, and now that I am in the early years of my second half century, I find my reactions to many goings on framed within the plethora of metaphor clusters I acquired in my sci fi literature explorations.  Understanding this about me is relevant to the extent that 1) I truly believe in the force–for good and ill–as a framing spiritual metaphor for the divine in life; and 2) I often understand the import of present affairs in light of these framing metaphors.  So it should surprise few that I found myself processing some events of the last few days through the lenses I acquired in my explorations of science fiction.

I found myself particularly disturbed last evening as I watched and read about the events unfolding in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.  Watching and reading about the events in Ohio and Wisconsin,  I was particularly fascinated by the response of the citizenry to the proposals by the governors of both states to disintegrate or diminish greatly the rights of government employees to organize and maintain membership as unionized workers, to strike when the membership deemed it necessary to do so, and to bargain as a represented entity for wages, benefits, and conditions of working.  I feel a deep connection to these two places and the events unfolding there for a few important reasons:  I was born and raised in Ohio, I completed my bachelor’s degree there, and have been teaching at a private university  in Ohio for 21 years.  I earned my Doctorate from the University of Minnesota, and spent my first 6 years as a terminally degreed professional teaching in the University of Wisconsin system and living in Wisconsin.  Minnesota and Wisconsin were, for me, wonderful places to live and learn:  the people were a pragmatic yet progressive lot.  These states can claim proudly as their own Hubert Humphrey, Robert La Follette, and more recently, Al Frankin, Donna Shalala and Herb Kohl.   So it was no innocuous event to see 30, 000 plus people gathering in the Wisconsin capital to protest the proposals to bust the state employees unions by the newly elected governor.  Layer this on top of what I had observed the same day in Ohio, as John Kasich proposes to strip the rights of government employees’ unions here–and the thousands of teachers, police, municipal workers, and university employees–gathered at the Statehouse to speak in hearings and monitor the actions of the governor and the senate, and I not surprisingly found myself mentally flashing to a sci fi scene that crystallized the import of it all for me.

The flash was deeply vivid:  at the end of Terminator (the first movie of the trilogy), Sarah Connor finds herself in the desert, well pregnant with the child around which the action of the three movies revolves.  She stops at a gas station to fill up the tank of her jeep, determined to take herself  and her unborn child far away from the forces which threaten both her, her child, and the future of the planet.  The final scene shows her driving out of the gas station and down the road toward the mountains.  And, over those mountains to which she must escape, we can see the brewing of a violent storm:  sky dark purple, lightning and thunder flashing with menace, inevitable in the ominous threat it holds for her and all of humankind.

And then another flash:  the Dark Times.  The episode in the time line of the epic Star Wars series, when the Dark Side of the force takes hold in the galaxy and the Empire rises to epic prominence to oppress forces of good in the galaxy.   Epic events and overwhelming force suppresses and quashes all signs of resistance and protest.

And I realize, the only one talking about what is happening in these two states in any informative forum like news or punditry on a national scale is Ed.  Our Ed who we sometimes viewed with amused tolerance, or maybe even disdain, because he was so willing to scream about anything that threatened, as he calls it, “the soul of this country.”   I now feel the full force of the two by four hitting my forehead.  It is the Dark Times.  We have driven well into the storm over the mountains.  We’re going to have to live this in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and the force only knows how many other states until we come out on the other side in 2012.   Where we come out is ours to determine, I truly believe.  But we better well now set ourselves to the reality that this storm is going to rage for quite a while until then, the Dark Times will not go away because we (or the other arms of the media industry) refuse to act like they are here or acknowledge its significance.

Everyone brace yourselves.  And pay attention to Ed.

Categories: News & Politics

Written by ChrisR266

Professor of Communication. Have been teaching for 30 years. Interest areas are in Contemporary Rhetoric--Popular and Political; Sport and Fandom; Television and New Media. Married with grown children. Ahhhh. Am a true "bleeding heart" liberal.

39 Responses so far.

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  1. Hay Zeus Boodah says:

    TBD….I like to think the sleeping giant has been awaken and a massive backlash against the republicons is taking shape !

  2. dimplasm says:

    Thanks for the article. Just got off a thread on HP about this. One of them was on lockdown with 600+ pending. The troll comments were truly saddening. The right’s demonization of unions has been very successful.

  3. celere says:

    CrisR, I’m loving what Ed’s doing, keep hearing the phrase “working class hero” while watching him. This is where we have to draw the line. This could be the battle. This is the issue that could hit home for most of our fellow Americans (those who aren’t fully brainwashed against unions). This, I sense, is the opportunity to clarify what’s at stake.

    Wish I could be with them physically, but what we do out here in cyberspace also counts.

  4. KillgoreTrout says:

    Freedom and the protection of a collective well being requires constant vigilance. Things are trending downward in America, or at least, it seems that way. But I think there are enough decent, sane people in America that are and will be a bulwark against the encroachments of the ultra rich. Or as John Lennon once said, “Keep on keeping on!”

  5. ADONAI says:

    We’ll be alright.

  6. SueInCa says:

    Chris

    This article brought tears to my eyes. As I write this, I am finding it hard to not let go. I was never a union employee and I did fine in my career, however, I was working in a different time. I was working when all the movement was shifting jobs gradually oversees. For me, I was lucky, I worked in fraud and security in the banking industry and they could not shift us oversees. I understand what the unions did for this country and how many people lost their lives fighting for fair wages and decent living conditions. And like you, I am very uneasy at what is going on in this country.

    The problem is, there just does not seem to be any will to fight it. I know what these people want and it is not good for the country or our citizens. I just don’t know how to wake people up at this point. When I write about it, people dog me, call me names and act like I am the one out of step(at least “over there”). I am the angry white lady, kind of funny in a way, but not really. I am angry and I have even contemplated moving out of this country, something I never imagined I would do.

    • ChrisR266 says:

      Hey, Sue.
      Thanks for your comments. And, believe me, I can appreciate what and how you feel. I’m much the same as you.
      I do think we citizens in general (note I say this not to stereotype but to brew a line of thought)have a real love/fear thing about unions.
      The thinking part of our brain KNOWS what the union movement in the first part of the 20th century did for the average American worker.
      We can see it around us everyday, we have mythologized much of it in popular lore and in popular culture. People died and were maimed and oppressed and horribly underpaid until workers decided to fight for decent working conditions, livable wage, and the good of all who worked side by side.
      At the same time, there has also been a resistant current in popular culture, produced by communication industries which are by nature and function conservative, pounding the message that Unions are evil, corrupt, and somehow corrosive to democracy. The rhetoric of the managerial/ownership class has always been full of disparaging fantasy themes about “the unionized workers.”
      So, we find the public mind in a warped sort of doublethink about unions. It is disturbing, because it has been exactly because unionized workers have given up hard earned gains that many industries survived some of our most difficult economic times over the last 40 years.
      At the same time,

      • SueInCa says:

        Chris

        I am not the biggest cheerleader of unions because I have some reservations about their ability to stay on a job even if they are not performing but I will guarantee their right to bargain for fair wages, benefits and treatment everytime. In fact it should be for all people, especially Walmart. I understand their history a bit better after reading The People’s History of the United States/Howard Zinn. I know they sacrificed alot for working people and I respect them tremendously for that.

  7. Sabreen60 says:

    I have watched Ed for three days as he continues to pound away at these events. He brings guests in to help with the pounding. I am so angry at what these Repub governors are trying to do. There is almost a media blackout. It’s unbelievable. I can’t help but compare the protesters in WI to those in Egypt. The government was the culprit in Egypt in that they tried to silence the people. Here, the media is the culprit because they are silencing themselves.

  8. KillgoreTrout says:

    Are you talking about Ed Schultz?

  9. intotheabyss says:

    I agree things are looking pretty bleak. A lot of people still don’t see the gathering storm though. Denial is a hard emotion to break through. I’m frankly getting tired of trying with the people in my circle of family and friends. It seems like the human race has to keep going around in circles instead of learning from the past and going forward. I’ve been reading “A People’s History of the World” by Chris Harmon. It begins well before the birth of Christ. I’m up to the 15th century now which is a quarter of the way through the book. The thing that is striking so far is how many times this same dynamic has repeated itself throughout history in every part of the world. No culture seems immune, except perhaps some very small pockets of indigenous populations which of course suffered for their good nature at the hands of global elites. And here we are again dealing with a global cartel bent on enslaving the masses. How do the sociopaths among us always get the upper hand? Is there some flaw in human nature that prevents us from confronting bullies until it’s nearly too late? It’s a mystery to me.

    • SueInCa says:

      intotheabyss
      Did you read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States? Same deal, we keep repeating the same vicious circle over and over.

      • jdmn17 says:

        For anyone here who has not read it I recommend it. He’s gone now and I doubt anyone will be able to pick it up from where he stopped. I read the first edition and stayed with it through each new release. It’s a marvelous story and one so fraught with parallels to our own past, ergo the thirties. I think its influence led to my first chills as I began realizing the tremendous influence places like Fox News were having on a larger and larger segment of the people.

        • SueInCa says:

          jdmn, the parallels to today and the state of this country with respect to corporations and republicans/teabaggers, politics and SCOTUS is very much inline with our history over and over in this country. The have nots are constantly fighting for a piece of the pie.

          I have read two editions of this book and each time I find it fascinating and learn something new I missed before.

  10. Dbos says:

    Turning working man against working man is a ploy of the world wide scheme against working people by the right wing. There needs to be a organizing of all unemployed and employed working people to stand against the corporations. The dark times are here because of the ignorance of the racist people protesting against things that would benefit them.

  11. choicelady says:

    ChrisR -- as a trained historian myself, I would posit that compared to the Homestead lockout or national RR strike or ANYTHING in the post-Civil War era, this is pretty small. I have family and friends in the public universites in Ohio, so I’m very, VERY worried, but this is NOT the secular end times scenario. Not yet. And whether it goes down or not has a great deal to do with us, with whether we are willing to be present on the issues. You, in the private sector, CAN speak out on behalf of your colleagues in the public sector -- and join them if and when the picket lines come.

    We do NOT have to take this stuff from the forces of darkness. First of all -- I’m reasonable convinced that a legislature cannot legislate away either contracts or, especially, the right to be a union. The NLRB can become involved since the right to organize and bargain is federal. Why no one is asking that question -- can the OH and WI legislatures DO this legally -- is beyond me.

    Across the nation the forces of Kochs and the Family ARE conspiring to end unions. It’s the Dominionist top desire since they posit rule by elites, are anti-democracy, and think working people should be forever grateful just to HAVE jobs and never make a peep when the rich decide to extract more value for their own pockets by picking the pockets of working people. In the public sector it’s a desire to get more goodies without ever paying for them, and certainly to prevent a tax hike on their obscene accumulations.

    But no -- the dark, purple clouds are not YET thundering overhead. The Force can be with all of us as much or more than with them. The issue is how much will do we have to see other people’s lives as important to our own? In “The Terminator” she heads off, pregnant and alone. How different would it have been had she had legions of caring people around her? In only movies does the sole person fight off evil single handedly -- and that’s where we go wrong. It is and always has been Egypt, Eastern Europe and Solidarity, South AFrica -- we win when we come together.

    Waiting for the white knight, for the brave woman, for any single person is futile. ChrisR -- expect to see you on the public employee picket lines in Ohio. That’s where the strength to overcome the Terminator lies.

  12. audadvnc says:

    Don’t go all Chicken Little on us, please…

    Mongol hordes at the gates are dark times. Tea Partiers in the legislature are merely an annoyance.

    • Sabreen60 says:

      I don’t know if they are merely an annoyance. Rove consciously or unconsciously laid out the game plan. According to him unions have lost about 600,000 workers in the last couple of years. Union workers tend to vote for Dems. In addition, fewer union members mean less funds for campaign contributions. We are already at a disadvantage thanks to the SCOTUS. Since there is no campaign finance reform and probably won’t be any before 2012, I believe if busting unions is successful the impact on the 2012 elections will be more than an annoyance.

      • SueInCa says:

        Sabreen
        I agree with you. I go around the web and check up on these people and what I see is a very concerted effort to get rid of liberals/progressives. I think if they could jail us or put us all in “fema camps” they would. IMHO I think progressives are losing the battle. You can see it in the media, politics, individual states. To deny it is to invite peril, IMHO.

  13. KQuark says:

    Very sad but true I fear.

    I don’t know if we’ll have a WWIII type cataclysmic decline rather I think our decline if progress cannot catch up will be much more similar to the movie “Idiocrasy”. We increasing because a country less and less able to allow itself to be run by the most effective people because people no longer value hard work and don’t believe in shared sacrifice. The willful ignorance of people in our society is truly alarming.

    I don’t think the Dark Times are here quite yet and we can turn things around by just being a little smarter by accepting reality but I’ve always seen the light in things.

    Who knows maybe demographic shifts will eventually save us.

    • AlphaBitch says:

      Hey hey Pollyanna! Nice to see you, bluegrass buddy. I’m ordering your periodic tables this year as gifts. How lovely and unique!

      Hope all is well with you, and so happy to see you back. BTW: there is a wonderful song by the Avett Brothers about “there’s a darkness within me that’s blinded by light”. I think it’s called “Head Full of Doubt”. Or should be. -AB

  14. jkkFL says:

    Such a great post! The Dark Times are here with a vengeance, but people just can’t see the villain.

    In 2005, Mitch Daniels dissolved the unions.. Indiana is another state that has been so screwed by the GOP, I can’t figure out why it’s a red state. I was born and raised in IN, and now I’ve been in FL for many years. The total denigration of workers in both states is appalling.
    I am adding two links that illustrate my point:
    http://www.futureofcapitalism.com/2010/03/mitch-daniels-on-the-state-of-the-nation.

    also: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-scott-rejects-rail-money-20110216,0,2863027.story

    The residents of each state think the problem is President Obama and his policies.
    Is there any hope??

    • ghsts says:

      Many here in the corn got a real taste of what you describe 2008-10 and what makes me so emphatic about sticking to the left. Obama was only accepted in the urban areas and it was a close call. I can think back to the late 80-90s when Byebahy birdie the “dem” balanced the budget on the back of the state employees with wage freezes throughout his tenure, back when there was inflation. We blue bells know the problem is here surrounding us tend to get touchy about giving Dems a pass because a blue dog is just a kinder gop. There are defiantly clouds forming.

      • jkkFL says:

        Any time I see Mike Pence I want to throw something!
        You don’t really have a strong Democrat, so I can understand your feelings- FL doesn’t either, since the KochCrooks defeated Grayson.
        I cannot understand how states that are so desperate, just give the GOP a free pass year after year.


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